Being part of a ladies small group has been a challenging and rewarding opportunity...challenging because of the things we discuss, not because of the ladies! I have come to appreciate these fellow sisters in Christ so much! Together, we talk about the Holy Spirit guiding our lives and increasing our awareness and understanding of who God is. We need to know God – really know Him personally – and not just about Him. As it states in Jeremiah 9:23-24, “Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let those who boast boast about this: that they understand and know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight”. God has given us the Holy Spirit and His Word to bring us into closer and closer relationship with Him – being conformed into the likeness of Christ. He also conforms us through our relationships with others. With that in mind, we can leave pretence at the door and really be honest and open with each other about where we are at in our lives. Every time we meet, I am challenged to evaluate some aspect of what I believe about God and why, and to grow in my personal walk with Him through the leading of the Holy Spirit.
Many of our discussions involve the role of forgiveness in our relationships. Often we come back to this essential truth: God requires us to forgive. As Jesus says in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive others when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”.
How much turmoil in our lives is because of an inability to forgive an offence against us? How much bitterness? How many broken relationships? What is there in your life that you just can't seem to let go? As citizens of this earth, there are always going to be things we need to forgive because we all sin. In light of this, we need to be conscious of God's call on us to forgive. In Colossians 3:12-13 Paul admonishes us, “Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you”.
If you find yourself constantly needing to bring up an offence from the past, you probably have not forgiven it! Ask the Father if there is someone you need to forgive. Go ahead. Ask Him! The result of choosing to forgive may be freedom and joy that you have not experienced in a while, or maybe ever.
Being able to forgive others has been crucial to my own walk with God. It allows me to see others through Christ's eyes and extend grace to them as He has given to me. In consequence, my relationships with others can be at a deeper, more fulfilling and satisfying level. I am so thankful to the ladies in my group for challenging me to grow closer to God and for journeying together with me. If you do not have someone who can challenge you and speak truth to you in love, maybe it is time to prayerfully seek someone out.